Engaging with civil society in Sub-Saharan Africa


The Australian aid program values partnerships with civil society organisations including non-government organisations (NGOs). Civil society organisations can be powerful agents for change—as partners in delivering better services for the poorest members of society, and as enablers of social inclusion. They can also advocate for more effective, accountable and transparent governments. Civil society organisations promote community level engagement, build the capacity of civil society more broadly and strengthen people to people links. Australian NGOs have longstanding connections, expertise and experience in Africa. They are working with communities across the African continent. According to the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), around a third of all public donations made by Australians in 2013-14 for development projects overseas went to projects in Africa.

Australia’s development assistance delivers the following programs through civil society partners:

  • Australia Africa Community Engagement Scheme
  • Australian NGO Cooperation Program
  • Civil Society WASH Fund
  • Direct Aid Program.

Related initiatives

Australian NGO Cooperation Program in Africa

$21 million, 2016-2017

$21 million, 2017-18 Budget Estimate

Australia supports accredited Australian NGOs to deliver cost effective, practical and direct poverty reduction programs through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP). The ANCP will directly support community-level economic development, facilitating access to markets, improving livelihoods for women and working to strengthen links between communities, government and the private sector.

In 2017-18, an estimated $21 million will be provided for community development projects across 30 African countries. In 2016-17, ANCP supported 28 Australian NGOs to deliver 90 projects in 21 African countries, to the value of approximately $21 million.

Related link

Civil Society Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Fund in Africa

$103.3 million (estimated) 2011-2017, $26.95 million to Africa

The Civil Society WASH Fund includes a $93 million competitive grants program that supports civil society organisations to deliver WASH programs in Africa, Asia and the Pacific. The core objective of the Civil Society WASH Fund is to enhance the health and quality of life of the poor and vulnerable by improving sustainable access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene. In addition to the competitive grants program, the Fund supports research, innovation and impact grants, fund management, monitoring and evaluation processes and knowledge and learning events.

The Fund’s total investment in Africa (from 2011 to 2017) is $26.95 million, with activities in Lesotho ($2.8 million), Malawi ($7.2 million), Mozambique ($4.5 million) and Zimbabwe ($12.4 million).

In Africa, six civil society organisations are implementing Fund projects including: Concern Universal which is enhancing the health and quality of life of 212,000 poor and vulnerable people by building local capacity to plan, implement and manage effective WASH services in southern Malawi; and World Vision Australia which is working with local authorities to improve equitable access to WASH services for almost 50,000 people living in rapidly growing urban and peri-urban areas in Zimbabwe. The Fund’s total investment in Africa is $26.95 million, with activities in Lesotho ($2.8 million), Malawi ($7.2 million), Mozambique ($4.5 million) and Zimbabwe ($12.4 million).

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Direct Aid Program in Africa

$6.6 million 2017-2018 Budget Estimate

The Direct Aid Program (DAP) is a flexible small grants program managed by Australian diplomatic missions across Africa (and other regions). The aim is to advance developmental objectives and address humanitarian hardship in developing countries, while at the same time supporting Australia’s wider foreign and trade policy interests and public diplomacy objectives. DAP funding is available on a not-for-profit basis to individuals, community groups, NGOs and other entities engaged in development activities.

The 2017-18 DAP allocation to African countries is estimated at $6.6 million, representing 30 per cent of global DAP funding. This is expected to fund around 200 projects across Africa.

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* The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is committed to high standards of transparency and accountability in the management of the Australian aid program through publishing information on our website, including policies, plans, results, evaluations and research. Our practice is to publish documents after the partner government and any other partners directly involved in the delivery of the initiative have been consulted. Not all material published on this site is created by the Australian aid program and therefore not all documents reflect our views. In limited circumstances some information may be withheld for reasons including privacy and commercial sensitivity.

Last Updated: 20 March 2018